Do you feel that chill in the air, the rain coming down (if you’re lucky to live in a place not affected by a drought like I am)? That’s the sound of fall in the air, and we all know what that means: HALLOWEEN!!! Halloween cannot come soon enough but there’s got to be more on TCM this month than horror films, right? Let’s look at ten movies to watch in October.
**All times are listed as Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.**
The premise for this on my TIVO was hilarious and hopefully the movie’s actual plot is about more than a director of a mental institution picking out curtains. Yes, that was the plot summary TIVO gives. The TCM description elaborates further, describing The Cobweb as focusing on a cast of loony inmates and directors of said mental institution. It’s directed by Vincente Minnelli who, based on what I’ve previously seen, wouldn’t strike me as directing a kooky story like this although the cast, including Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer, and Lillian Gish, all sound Minnelli worth. The Cobweb airs October 4th at 8am.
If memory serves, writer Lou Lumenick listed Five Came Back as being unavailable on DVD and I try to prioritize movies I know I won’t see anywhere but TCM. Five Came Back follows a group of plane crash survivors struggling to escape a jungle; it also stars Lucille Ball in a dramatic role. Five Came Back airs October 5th at 2:30pm.
October 6th is the birthday of Jane Alice Peters, better known to audiences as Carole Lombard. There were several films I contemplated choosing during TCM’s birthday tribute on the sixth but I went with one of the dramatic films they listed: In Name Only. The film stars Kay Francis and Cary Grant alongside Lombard with Grant as the man who falls for a widow but can’t get his wife to grant a divorce. With the Production Code in effect I’m curious to see how they’ll get over the impediment of marriage and infidelity, especially since Francis and Lombard are equally matched (unless they decide to turn Francis into a snob). You can see what’s In Name Only when it airs October 6th at 6pm.
The weird premise of the month – in a month with several – has to go to 1942’s Fingers at the Window starring Lew Ayres. The film follows a magician who, with the power of hypnosis, creates an army of murderers. I have to see how that turns you and you should too! Fingers at the Window airs October 13th at 1pm.
TCM’s Halloween theme for the month is ghost stories and there were several great choices. The Old Dark House, directed by William Castle, involves a millionaire who invites a car salesman to his eponymous old, dark house. I enjoy horror/comedies and this looks to have all the joys of a haunted house thriller with a dash of whimsy. Enter The Old Dark House on October 16th at 9:30pm.
Many TCM fans dislike the station showing movies post 1970 and up, but I’ve included a couple here because if they’re good enough for TCM they’re good enough for me! The first is Mel Brooks’ tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, High Anxiety. I’m a fan of Brooks’ spoofs; Young Frankenstein is great, but I’m a bigger sucker for Dracula: Dead and Loving It. Having seen Brooks in person at last year’s TCMFF I figured it was time to give the rest of his work a watch. High Anxiety airs October 19th at 4pm.
The theme for this month’s TCM Friday Night Spotlight is films set and about Africa. As far as themes go, it wasn’t yielding much for me to watch until I stumbled upon Gorillas in the Mist. The story of gorilla activist Dian Fossey has been recommended to me by several people and there’s no good reason why I have yet to watch it. Gorillas in the Mist airs during an evening devoted to Africa on October 24th at 10:45pm.
There have been several films about staving off death and instead of playing chess with it, Lionel Barrymore traps Death in a tree; that’s the premise of the film On Borrowed Time, also starring Cedric Hardwicke. Maybe it’s my own fear of mortality, but I watch a lot of movies in the “afterlife” genre, if that particular genre’s been coined. There’s so many different genres that toy with this, and On Borrowed Time, with a grandfather/grandson relationship will definitely pull on my heartstrings. On Borrowed Time airs October 27th at 8pm during an evening devoted to the films of Beulah Bondi.
Tuesday, October 28th kicks off TCM’s Halloween tribute with a night of horror anthologies, my favorite type of horror film. I had a lot of options including what follows Dead of Night, Vincent Price in Twice-Told Tales. Dead of Night won out because of all the weird images I found when I Googled it, including a ventriloquist’s dummy which never fails to freak me out! The movie has quite the impressive cast, including Michael Redgrave and Googie Withers. You can get scared with Dead of Night on October 28th at 8pm.
I’d already planned on watching Burnt Offerings, but TCM helps me kill two birds with one stone. Starring 1970s staples, Oliver Reed, Karen Black, and Burgess Meredith, the movie follows a family who moves into a haunted house that’s stealing their lives. Oliver Reed has slowly become a Halloween staple on the blog, last year’s review of The Brood for example, and I’ve been told this is great. Burnt Offerings airs October 30th at 3am – technically October 31st.
The TCM Trio
Twas the night before Halloween and all round the house…TCM shows a lot of horror movies and here’s three you should watch. The chills start at 8pm when Vincent Price leads a group of strangers to The House on Haunted Hill. Then, at 9:30pm, Roddy McDowall learns about The Legend of Hell House. Finally, William Castle counts down to mischief with 13 Ghosts at 11:15pm.
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.